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Maidstone United 2 Ebbsfleet United 6 match report

Charlie Sheringham scored a hat-trick as Ebbsfleet cruised into the Kent Senior Cup quarter-finals at Maidstone's expense on Tuesday night.

Sheringham's goals at the Gallagher Stadium were his first for the club since returning from a long injury lay-off and he became the second Fleet player in four days to bag a treble.

He followed in the footsteps of Matt Godden, who scored three in the 4-2 win against Bishop's Stortford.

Hat-trick hero Charlie Sheringham goes for goal against Maidstone Picture: Steve Crispe
Hat-trick hero Charlie Sheringham goes for goal against Maidstone Picture: Steve Crispe

The two managers made a total of 21 changes from their respective league games at the weekend, with Ebbsfleet's Anthony Acheampong - captain for the night - the only survivor. Even he hadn't been due to play on Saturday but an injury to Joe Howe, sustained during the warm-up, meant Acheampong was drafted in at the last minute.

New signing Charles Banya made his Stones debut and he was one of six senior players in the home XI alongside James Rogers, Alex Brown, Alex Akrofi, Frannie Collin and Alex Flisher.

There was also a debutant in the Fleet side, Lloyd Harrington, who was playing his first competitive game for the club since joining from Dover in summer 2014. Harrington has been plagued by injury in recent years - and his comeback here lasted just 10 minutes.

The defender went down on the halfway line and it was quickly clear he couldn't continue. Harrington's departure on a stretcher was heart-breaking given his recent history.

By that time, Ebbsfleet were 1-0 up. Alex Osborn, having just finished a loan spell at Maidstone, cut inside from the right and forced a save from Ben Bridle-Card before sending over a terrific cross which Sheringham headed home from inside the six-yard box.

Sheringham's strike partner Danny Haynes then went close twice in as many minutes. He fired across goal from a narrow angle and then glanced a header wide when Osborn collected Michael West's pass and delivered a teasing cross.

The seniority in Ebbsfleet's team was showing as they enjoyed the lion's share of possession during the first half.

Sheringham turned Robbie Willmott's deep free-kick over the bar from close-range before the Fleet did double their lead on 28 minutes.

The ball was played to Osborn on the right-hand corner of the penalty and, spotting Bridle-Card off his line, he sent a precise lob over the goalkeeper's head and into the top corner. It was the finish of a player brimming with confidence.

Anthony Acheampong is targeting a second winner's medal in National League South Picture: Steve Crispe
Anthony Acheampong is targeting a second winner's medal in National League South Picture: Steve Crispe

Osborn then swapped flanks and fed Willmott, overlapping down the left, whose cross was headed straight at Bridle-Card by Sheringham.

The irrepressible Osborn wriggled past two Stones defenders and got a left-footed shot away, forcing a good low save from Bridle-Card.

Sheringham volleyed West's near-post cross into the net for 3-0 on 39 minutes and then thought he'd completed a first-half hat-trick, only to see his header ruled out for offside.

West had a goalbound shot blocked and Sheringham's flick sent Osborn racing through on goal but this time his chip over Bridle-Card dropped narrowly wide of the far post.

Ebbsfleet keeper Jon Miles was finally called into action a minute before the interval when he dived high to his right to claw out a Banya strike after the midfielder had surged across the face of the box.

But 10 minutes into the second half, Miles had a moment he will want to forget, dropping a right-wing cross onto the head of Akrofi, who couldn't miss with the goal gaping.

The goal lifted Maidstone and Collin had a good shooting chance moments later but Miles this time rushed out and made a smart save at the striker's feet.

At the other end, Sheringham almost laid on fourth Fleet goal when the hosts lost possession in their left-back area. Osborn, racing into the box, ended up in the back of the net but the ball didn't, with Sheringham's cross just too strong for his team-mate.

Ebbsfleet's Matt Johnson plays a pass under pressure from Alex Flisher Picture: Steve Crispe
Ebbsfleet's Matt Johnson plays a pass under pressure from Alex Flisher Picture: Steve Crispe

Bridle-Card did well to keep out a Haynes header but from the resulting corner, academy defender Joe Denny smashed in his first senior goal following a scramble.

That settled the visitors back down and Denny volleyed Haynes' deep cross high over the bar before Matt Johnson went close from 25 yards. Johnson was given permission to play for Ebbsfleet in this game despite remaining on loan at Bishop's Stortford.

Between those efforts, Maidstone spurned a great chance when Collin, unmarked, headed over from three yards.

Sean Shields dragged a shot wide for the visitors but more goals weren't far away.

Stones academy prospect Jon Burtonshaw scored just four minutes after coming on, converting Collin's pull-back with an emphatic finish.

But Osborn side-footed in a left-wing cross to make it 5-2 and Sheringham completed the scoring - and his hat-trick - with a header two minutes from the end.

Ebbsfleet will be at home to VCD Athletic or Phoenix Sports in the quarter-finals.

Maidstone: Bridle-Card, Hood (Sutherland 82mins), Butler, Rogers, Jarvis, Thomas, Banya, Brown (Burtonshaw 75mins), Akrofi (Richards 84mins), Collin, Flisher. Subs not used: Mackelden, Reed.

Ebbsfleet: Miles, Pooley, Shields (Long 85mins), M Johnson, Acheampong, Harrington (Denny 10mins), Osborn, West, Sheringham, Haynes (C Johnson 80mins), Willmott. Subs not used: Hall, McMahon.

Attendance: 479.

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